ANU Supercomputer Facility - Annual Report 1998

Time Allocation Committee and Systems Usage


The Supercomputer Time Allocation Committee (STAC) has had the responsibility for allocating time on the University's production high performance computing systems since 1987.

The Committee's policy is that all but small start-up allocations of time to local researchers should be subject to a peer-review process. Applicants are required to provide an academic justification for the amount of time requested, as well as information by which the suitability of the computer system for the proposed research can be judged. The Chairman of the Committee obtains reports on proposals from referees throughout Australia and in many cases from overseas. New projects and continuing projects that make large requests for resources are routinely refereed. The Committee makes grants of time on the basis of these reports and on the effective use of previous grants. Since the time between meetings of the Committee is quite long, procedures are implemented to assist researchers who wish to commence projects that evolve between meetings of the Committee.

The STAC processed two rounds of proposals during the year. Given the mature nature of the bulk the projects, the process was again relatively informal in 1998.

Membership of the Time Allocation Committee

Members of the Committee are academics appointed on a two-year rotating basis by the Chairman. The Chairman is appointed by the Vice-Chancellor.

During 1998, members were:

Professor D J Evans, RSC (Chairman)

Professor M A Bennett, Research School of Chemistry

Dr Stephan Marcelja, RSPhysSE

Dr Geoff Davies, RSES

Dr Brian Molinari, Department of Computer Science, FEIT

Dr R A Gingold, ANUSF (ex officio)

Allocations in 1998

The following table presents a summary of the number of researchers and time allocations by research field on each system, for ANU projects.

Distribution of ANU Time Allocations by Research Field, 1998


Research Field Researchers Grant Percent
Biomolecular Modelling 30 28017 26
Bioscience and Environmental Science 16 4340 4
Chemistry 33 25800 24
Molecular Dynamics and Statistical Physics 16 21244 20
Geophysics and Earth Science 19 3410 3
Mathematics, Computer Science and Systems Engineering 10 12685 12
Plasma Research 18 7116 7
Other Physics and Astrophysics 30 6087 6
Total 108699

SGI Power Challenge

Research Field Researchers Grant Percent
Biomolecular Modelling 35 41695 26
Bioscience and Environmental Science 11 3100 2
Chemistry 37 51876 32
Molecular Dynamics and Statistical Physics 9 20345 12
Geophysics and Earth Science 17 8160 5
Mathematics, Computer Science and Systems Engineering 13 25250 15
Plasma Research 10 1000 1
Other Physics and Astrophysics 35 11985 7
Total 163411

Internal VPP300 Allocations

A total of 71 internal VPP300 projects were approved by the Time Allocation Committee. There were 15 new projects. During the year, there were 164 researchers associated with ANU projects on the VPP300, comprising 47 Principal Investigators and 143 individual user accounts on the system. (The totals obtained by summing the columns headed 'Number of Researchers' in the following tables are greater than 164 because some researchers work on more than one project.) The user base was stable with only a small percentage increase since 1997.

Grants are allocated in Service Units. A Service Unit is related to cpu use and the priority of the job; at normal priorities, one Service Unit corresponds to one hour of cpu time on a single processor. The system was heavily used throughout the year. Note that time was also used by external users, for systems development and for the Fujitsu collaborative software development projects and similar activities.

Table 1 lists grants and usage by project. A detailed description of each project is presented in Appendix A.

Internal SGI-PowerChallenge Allocations

A total of 72 projects involving 51 Principal Investigators and 162 researchers were awarded allocations. There were 11 new projects (9 of which were also new projects on the VPP300). There were 48 projects which also were allocated time on the VPP system. The number of projects and associated researchers grew by around 10 percent in 1998. Total cpu usage by internal STAC users was 148,142 hours.

In addition, there were 35 active 'Class B' users of the system (including 12 new ones) who are not subject to allocation by the STAC. Class B accounts are provided for 'low-end supercomputer' users who require occasional use of a computational resource beyond that which they can reasonably expect to have available on their desktop or in their Department or School. It is intended that such users be granted relatively ready access to the PowerChallenge system, but not on the 'free-for-all' basis that has been the case on some central non-supercomputer services in the past. Class B users used 756 hours during the year.

Table 2 lists grants and usage by project. A detailed description of each project is presented in Appendix A.

External VPP300 Allocations

As outlined in the Collaboration and Outreach section of this annual report, the STAC continued to take responsibility for allocating the bulk of external usage of the VPP300 and on the SGI-PowerChallenge. In 1998, 38 external projects (15 new in 1998) were supported on the VPP and 19 (4 new) on the SGI-PowerChallenge (7 projects had access to both systems) involving a total of 131 researchers from 19 universities (and the CSIRO). The VPP system in particular was heavily oversubscribed. Of these projects, 27 had independent support from the Australian Research Council.

Tables 3 and 4 list the external projects which were supported. The 38 VPP projects involve 99 researchers and the 19 SGI-PowerChallenge projects 53 researchers.

Omitted from the tables 1, 2, 3 and 4 are those projects which were given small provisional grants and which made little or no use of the grant.

Detailed descriptions of the projects can be found in Appendix B.

ANU Supercomputer Facility - Home Page | Contact us
The Australian National University